Mineko_de los Peines (Beyond The_Shell)

Mineko_de los Peines (Beyond The_Shell)

José María Ocaña Diez de la Torre
by PepeOcana on 1 Jun 2022 for Rookie Awards 2022

Year 1-989, Mineko is a robot programmed to act, think and live as a geisha would: subtle and discreet, her movements are delicate and she avoids attracting attention. However, Mineko has developed a peculiar taste for the form of expression that most seems to clash with what she was programmed to do...

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Mineko_de los Peines (Beyond The_Shell)

After finishing the master's degree in Architectural Visualization with 3ds Max and V-Ray last year, my school, butic The New School, decided to grant me a scholarship to continue my training with them, thus making the leap from 3ds Max and V-Ray to Unreal Engine.

This work arises as the final tesis of the master's degree in Architectural Visualization with Unreal Engine. It is modeled in 3ds Max, textured in Adobe Substance Painter, Adobe Substance Designer and UE-5 and rendered in UE-5. The clothing animations are done in Marvelous designer. Since the work philosophy of my school is to give students total creative freedom when developing projects, although I have no knowledge of animation, I also decided to introduce some actors in my scene to help tell my story. I love animation and I didn't want to miss out on getting into it a bit. With the help of Mixamo animations and some motion captures I could more or less bring my geisha to life. 

 Despite having only a laptop and not having a graphics card with ray tracing to maximize the capabilities of UE-5, I hope I have transmitted some of the passion and effort that I have put into the development of this project.

This project was born as a natural consequence in my learning process within the world of visual creation. After starting my training in the world of 3d studying infoarchitecture in 3ds Max and Vray, I decided to continue training in this sector with the idea of being able to carry out better and more ambitious projects. In this way I started an Unreal Engine course and from the beginning I began to devise what my final project would be. So I have been documenting myself and looking for good references for the spaces and assets of each scene. It has been a long and sometimes tedious process, especially when you don't hit the key, but very satisfying. I enjoy every stage of the process, from the idea, through modeling and texturing, to the final assembly of the scene within Unreal Engine.

Some highlights

The workflow always begins by looking for good references and the time spent in this process never matters, since a good example model will make a difference during the development of the project and especially at the end in the integration of my asset in the scene. Then I model from scratch or tweak a model I already have in my library and reduce the number of polygons as much as possible (only if necessary) so as not to clutter the scene. Next comes my favorite part which is texturing my object in Adobe Substance Painter (as well as baking it if I had generated a high poly model and a medium or low poly model), this is where the object comes to life.

Some details that you may have missed

Some Adobe Substance Painter screenshots

More details that you may have missed

The "tablao flamenco" is inspired by "Torres bermejas", a famous Madrid tablao in which the best flamenco artists have performed.

Some Adobe Substance Painter sreenshots

Likewise, I wanted to flee from diaphanous and clean environments. Nothing brings life to an environment better than a little dirt. In this way, I try to model my environments in a modular way to texture them in Painter, generating randomness, if necessary, with decals in UE, also using the trim sheet technique.

To create my textures, I always try various ways to bring my materials to life, from modeling and baking in 3ds Max to painting my assets in Adobe Substance Painter and Designer.

Some screenshots of Adobe Substance Designer

Some references

New and old Moscow subway station project

My school and teachers also gave me the opportunity to collaborate on an animated short film produced by the school and directed by my teachers, Diego Hernández Camarasa and José Manuel Cuello Sáez, that will be released shortly. In this way, my collaboration has consisted of devising, modeling and texturing the assets and the environment of a metro station inspired by the Moscow metro stations. On the one hand, a current station; on the other hand, a futuristic vision of them. I also show some images of the assets and the modules created to recreate the subway station. Since the program (and my computer) have some limitations, making a modular environment was key to being able to recreate a space of these dimensions and with a large number of assets. And since scene optimization was a priority, all assets have been optimized and textured in Adobe Substance Painter to get as much detail as possible.


Modular escalator

Modular Subway Station

Old subway station assets

Some Adobe Substance Painter screenshots

For the sake of optimization, whenever I have several small objects in the same scene, I sometimes texture them in groups, creating the same texture atlas for all of them. For this same purpose, if the scene were to be modular with repetition of the environment and assets, I would also use the trimsheet technique to make the most of the textures

New subway station assets

Some Adobe Substance Painter screenshots

Some Adobe Substance Designer screenshots

Some references

The Rookies 2021

I would also like to share some of the images of the project that I presented last year. The images that you are about to see are part of my final tesis in Architectural Visualization MSc. You may find these unconventional as they have been developed under the only premise of bringing together the things that I like the most in a cohesive way; not getting good grades, not entering any contest. I believe that, only by working on the things that you enjoy the most, you will allow others to enjoy your work. This is how this cocktail of cyberpunk films, Korean bands and Studio Ghibli film references was born.

Although there is still a long way to go, conceiving and carrying out this project has turned out to be a very satisfying experience for me since I have enjoyed every phase of the process. From the moment of devising the story, with the search for documentation and references for each of the assets that make up my scene, ensuring that nothing is the product of chance. Next, something that I love: modeling and texturing each element trying to make each one have its own character. Finally, by staging the scene in Unreal Engine, I get access to my imagination through the screen. Despite lacking knowledge of character animation and video editing, this is a world that fascinates me and the fact of doing things that could always be improved motivates me to continue researching and learning every day. I feel that every day I am closer and more and more motivated.

I have always really enjoyed watching movies and every time I see a movie I ask myself a multitude of questions, such as why the director would have chosen this shot for this sequence and not another or why this color palette... and, above all, why the result of all those decisions coming out of someone's head turn out to be such a satisfying experience for those of us who watch the movie. Sometimes the cinema, because of how it is told, seems to narrate our life and our experiences much better than we could ever tell it ourselves; sometimes the cinema seems more real than reality itself. We must know what are the things that we must choose and what we must dismiss in order to tell a story and that is what cinema does for us. Since I entered the world of visual creation, and even though I have just started, I feel that I can answer all those questions, somehow I feel that I can model time and emotions.

I hope I have reflected some of that enthusiasm.

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